The Karma of Killing

The Karma of Killing

Date Posted:
January 2012

A student had been a soldier in Africa when he was younger and had killed a number of people during his time there. He asked Rinpoche if there is a mantra, a deity or a practice that would help purify the heavy negative karma of his actions.

My very dear Jason,
Thank you very much for your kind letter, I am sorry it took so long to reply. To purify the past negative karma that you mentioned, please do these practices and follow this advice:

Build a statue of Vajrasattva. The material can be bronze—this is expensive to do in Nepal but cheap to do in China—or you can make it with cement or have it carved in stone. It should be six cubits high. If you don’t have a place to put the statue, you can offer it to a meditation center. It will then be useful for people to make prostrations and offerings, to circumambulate and so forth. It will help bring many people to enlightenment. The statue could be kept in a center in the US, India, Nepal or some other country.)

It is very important to meditate on the lam-rim every day; this is very important. Also recite one lam-rim prayer, such as the Foundation of all Good Qualities or the Three Principal Aspects of the Path, every day, reading it slowly to go over the meaning. Lam-rim is what you need to actualize, no matter how long it takes, so please put your effort there. You are probably doing Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga every day. If so, this is excellent; if not, then start now. This is when you can stop and do the lam-rim meditation—before the guru absorbs into you, stop and meditate on whatever section of the lam-rim you are up to.

One meditation that you must try to do every day is on guru devotion. If you miss it sometimes that’s ok, but then just continue. There is no question of time—it is up to you to do what fits.

Then continue with whatever lam-rim topic you are on, doing the meditation every day and going through the subjects slowly. Whatever meditation you did in the morning, continue with that mind during the day, so that way your mind is in lam-rim all day.

Please try to meditate on the lam-rim based on guru yoga like this; on this basis you will get all the realizations and most success in your life. It is important to try to achieve all the realizations in order to actualize enlightenment; this is in order to liberate numberless sentient beings and enlighten them. That’s the real project, the real goal of one’s life.

So, please practice as much as you can. Life is not long—the nature of this life is impermanent and death can happen at any time. This is the foundation of Buddha’s teachings, and this was the last advice Buddha gave before showing the aspect of passing away.

With much love and prayers...

This is my advice for your practice; what you should focus on for your life:

  • Prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddha’s names: 50,000 times. This is to purify the karma of the actions you mentioned.
  • Recite the Vajrasattva mantra 400,000 times. This is to purify the karma of the actions you mentioned.
  • Dorje Khadro (burning offering practice): 100,000 times
  • Water bowl offering: 200,000 times
  • Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga: 14,000 times, This means to recite the migme mantra 14,000 times. Please read my commentary on this practice.
  • Your main focus every day should be to do Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga.
  • Tong-len: 1,000 times. You can do this by reciting different prayers, the main thing is the visualization. You can use the verse in Lama Chöpa or the one from Nagarjuna: “May whatever suffering sentient beings have ripen on me; may whatever happiness I have ripen on other sentient beings.”
  • Tsa-tsas: 40,000
    • Deity: Thirty-five Buddhas on one mould and stupas
  • The graduated path of lower capable beings: two months
  • The graduated path of intermediate capable beings: five months
  • The graduated path of highest capable beings:
    • Bodhicitta: four months
    • Emptiness: one month

Do this cycle twice, then go through the meditations from perfect human rebirth one by one until you get the realization.